Today’s feature photos are brought to us by Toronto photographer Stephen Caissie. Stephen shot the images “pro-bono” for local musician Steven Taetz and the styling was done by Caffery Van Horne. There’s a rather epic tale behind the creation of the photos and when Stephen shared the images online this morning he sent out a Tweet with the hashtag #armyants. I loved the photos, but didn’t understand the reference to army ants, so I had to email Stephen and ask.
See another photo from the shoot and read about Stephen’s search for “THE SPOT” after the jump.
“We’re running late, of course. I tell the model and my stylist that I want to get there for 7:30. We arrive at 8:15, and my stylist promptly ducks into a church to find a bathroom, while the model and I fret outside. Okay, I’m doing most of the fretting, thinking about how quickly the sun is going down and how we’re going to miss that golden light through the trees.
“Finally, he reappears, we grab our gear and head into the ravine. I’m short an assistant on this shoot, so the stylist is carrying props as well as my beauty dish. We wend our way down, following a man-made path, but it curves around to the west and ends up under an embankment which cuts off the setting sun and turns everything to night. No good. But from where we are, I can see “THE SPOT” just to the east of us: tall, spare grasses, a handful of dead trees like dry sentinels standing guard around the perimeter, and most importantly, what’s left of the setting sun bathing it all in that magical god-light.
“There’s just one problem: between us and it there’s a creek, with no way to get across. We hoof it back along the trail to where we entered the ravine and double-back on another trail that goes up alongside a man-made park with a baseball diamond and kids learning to ride their bikes. The sun is going fast. I’m walking fast, trying to keep pace with it before it’s gone. My stylist is lagging behind, his muscles already tired from his morning run, but I refuse to slow down for him.
“To our left is the edge of the wilderness, impenetrable. I can’t see THE SPOT from this vantage, and I’m worried that we’ll never find it – or that we will, but there’ll be no trail. And the light is seeping away like blood. I’m getting frantic, swearing, walking even faster, ready to break into a run, my stylist be damned, when I catch a glimpse of a lone, twisted bare tree trunk. And there’s a path! Without even stopping, I plunge down the hill into the brush.
“As I suspected, the path peters out quickly and I’m left fording the way for the others. I feel like a voyageur, sans cutlass and canoe. But soon enough we’re here. The sun isn’t, not any more, but there’s still enough light in the sky seeping through the trees that we can make it work. I set up a light on a boom, attach the beauty dish, hook it up to the battery and start shooting. In ten minutes, my stylist and I are swarmed by angry, biting red army ants, the sun has long since fled for western lands and I’ve got the duelling banjos from Deliverance going through my head. But it was worth it.”